NEVERMORE — The Politics of Ecstasy (review)

NEVERMORE — The Politics of Ecstasy album cover Album · 1996 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
"The Politics of Ecstasy" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US power/thrash metal act Nevermore. The album was released through Century Media Records in November 1996. It´s the second release from the band in 1996 as they had already released the "In Memory" EP in July 1996. Guitarist Pat O'Brien was added to the lineup after the debut album and appeared on "In Memory (1996)". He is still present on "The Politics of Ecstasy", although it would be his last release with Nevermore before joining Cannibal Corpse.

Compared to the 1995 debut album and "In Memory (1996)", which both featured a predominantly US power metal oriented style, the music on "The Politics of Ecstasy" has taken on a much heavier, technical, and thrash metal oriented sound. A further developed version of the sound heard on "Optimist or Pessimist" from "In Memory (1996)" isn´t all wrong as a description. There are also several nods toward progressive metal on the album, although that´s not the dominant style. Especially the title track and the closing track "The Learning" are quite adventurous. The times on the tracklist may say that "The Learning" is 16:01 minutes long, but after about 10 minutes there are 5 minutes of silence and then a 1:19 minutes long hidden track closes the album. But despite not being 16 minutes long, "The Learning" is still quite the progressive track.

What is most remarkable about "The Politics of Ecstasy" is probably the crushingly heavy and technically well played riffs though. The constellation of Pat O'Brien and Jeff Loomis is brutal and incredibly skilled riff meister magic. The melodic side of Nevermore has taken a backseat on this album in favor of a more bleak and dark atmosphere and dissonance. Warrel Dane also explores new ground with his vocals. He can still deliver melodic and memorable singing when that is called for, but he sounds more aggressive and raw here than ever before. There´s a desperation to his performance which is another contributing factor to the bleak atmosphere that the album is wrapped in. The musicianship is one of the great assets of the album, and other than the many killer guitar riffs and solos, and Warrel Dane´s skillfully executed and distinct sounding vocals, I think both bassist Jim Sheppard and drummer Van Williams deserve a mention too. Especially the latter displays a more personal, varied, and technical drumming style on this album compared to his performances on the first two releases.

The 10 tracks on the 62:24 minutes long album are all well written and memorable, but they are not necessarily instantly catchy and some of them require a couple of spins to sink in. The more heavy and at times dissonant sound may not sit well with those who prefer Nevermore when they are more melodic, but I´ve always found it a bold move that the band opted for a more raw and bleak sound on this album. To my ears the whole album is one long highlight, but if I have to mention a couple of standout tracks it would be "The Seven Tongues of God", "This Sacrament", "Next in Line", "The Passenger", the title track, "42147", and "The Learning". The well written lyrics deal with topics such as artificial intelligence, politics, philosophy, and religion.

Neil Kernon has created the right cold, raw, and powerful sound production for the music. Again the emphasis is on heaviness and less on melody, but it´s clearly a conscious choice and to my ears it works wonders. So "The Politics of Ecstasy" is an album where all elements make one great whole. It´s one of Nevermore´s most hard edged and bold releases and taking everything into consideration I think a 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.
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UMUR wrote:
5 months ago
I enjoy this one a lot, because it´s a damn heavy and raw album. You have to Work a Little to find the melodies and I like that. Easy to access melodies usually Wear thin for me in the long run. There are of course loads of exceptions with releases and songs with strong melodies, but it´s just usually more rewarding to my ears, if I need to listen to music more than one time to understand and appreciate it.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
5 months ago
Must be good if you gave it 5 stars! You're fairly conservative with that high rating. I've yet to check out early Nevermore. Only familiar with the latter half of their career. Will have to check this out ;)

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